Colorado Faith Forum: Women Scholars in Contemporary Mormonism

I am thrilled to announce the Colorado Faith Forum’s first annual symposium on September 9, 2017. This year’s event will be featuring some of our preeminent Mormon scholars, discussing Changes, Challenges, and Choosing Faith in contemporary Mormonism. I have included the biographies for the panel below. This will be an amazing event–I have had the opportunity of hearing all of these women speak and have found them all to be engaging and inspiring. If you live in Colorado or want to take a quick trip to our beautiful Centennial State, tickets are still available and can be purchased here.

The mission of Colorado Faith Forums is to promote thoughtful and faithful discussion of Mormon topics through various outlets, including an annual symposium and periodic forums.  They seek learning, dialogue, and analysis of any issues concerning Mormon religious belief and culture.  They welcome a broad range of ideas and attitudes on these topics while maintaining a goal of promoting faith and constructive dialogue and avoiding negativity or animosity.  Colorado Faith Forums believes that the organic development of such forums for study and discussion, encompassing a variety of perspectives and opinions, can lead to opportunities for increased understanding, knowledge, and discipleship.

On a personal note, it has been so encouraging to watch Colorado Faith Forums create a space for thoughtful people and conversation. I have had the opportunity to attend two of their events, one with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and the other with Claudia and Richard Bushman. I found both evenings to be intellectually and spiritually broadening.

I hope many of you will be able to experience this as well.

Participant Bios:

Fiona Givens was born in Nairobi, educated in British convent schools, and converted to the LDS church in Frankfurt.  She graduated summa cum laude/phi beta kappa from the University of Richmond with degrees in French and German, then earned an M.A. in European History while co-raising the last of her six children. Fiona was director of the French Language program at Patrick Henry High School, in Ashland, Virginia. Besides education, she has worked in translation services, as a lobbyist, and as communications director of a non-profit. She has published in Exponent II, Sunstone, LDS Living, Journal of Mormon History and Dialogue. Fiona is also a frequent speaker on podcasts and at conferences from Time out for Women to Sunstone. A longtime collaborator in the books of her husband, Terryl Givens, she is the co-author of The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life and Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith.

Neylan McBaine is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Mormon Women Project, a digital library of hundreds of fascinating interviews with LDS women from around the world. Her newest book Women at Church, explores possibilities for increased female participation in LDS administration. She is the author of a collection of personal essays, How to be a Twenty-First Century Pioneer Woman, and the editor of Sisters Abroad: Interviews from the Mormon Women Project. She has been published in Newsweek, Washington Post and Dialogue. She is the founder and CEO of The Seneca Council, is a graduate of Yale in English Literature, and lives with her husband and three daughters in Salt Lake City.

Margaret Blair Young has written six novels and two short story collections and teaches creative writing at BYU.  With her co-author, Darius Gray, she has been researching and writing about race issues in the LDS Church and about black Mormon pioneers since 1998. She also writes academically about African American history in the western United States.  She has scripted and co-produced three documentaries and is now working on her first feature film, titled “Companions.” The film is set in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Margaret is involved in a number of projects, primarily focused on education and peace building. Her journey as a writer and filmmaker has been much easier than her journey as a mother, though she treasures the many ways parenthood has stretched her, and is in some awe of her children.  She and Bruce Young have two sons and two daughters, and four grandchildren.

Jana Riess is the author of many books, including Flunking Sainthood: Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor and The Twible: All the Chapters of the Bible in 140 Characters or Less . . . Now with 68% More Humor! She has recently conducted a national survey of four generations of current and former Latter-day Saints, which will be discussed in depth in the forthcoming book The Next Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints in America. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University and lives in Cincinnati, OH, where she serves as a counselor in the Relief Society presidency.


Mraynes lives in downtown Denver with her husband and four children. She spends her time lobbying at the Colorado Legislature, managing all the things and preparing Gospel Doctrine lessons.

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